Cell Phones

This photo, taken Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 outside Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, S.C., shows some of the thousands of cell phones South Carolina prison officials say are confiscated each month from the state's prisons. Gov. Mark Sanford pushed federal regulators to act on a petition that would allow prisons to use equipment to jam cell signals coming from smuggled phones. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The Tennessee Department of Correction is again issuing a call for action against contraband cellphones.

According to a release, Commissioner Tony Parker's call for action comes after a report from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The report tells of the effectiveness of micro-jamming technology to block illegal cellphone signals in correctional facilities.  

The report goes into detail on the results of a pilot test by the Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Prisons of micro-jamming technology at a state prison in South Carolina. \

“This pilot program is a clear example of available jamming technology that has been tested in a true correctional environment and has provided results that would render illegal cell phones inoperable inside Tennessee prisons, without disrupting legal communication devices outside the targeted area.” Parker said in a statement. 

Illegal cell phones inside prisons have been used by drug smuggling networks to facilitating assaults and escapes, as well as other illicit activities. In 2005, a contraband cell phone helped an inmate escape which ultimately led to the murder of Tennessee Correctional Officer Wayne “Cotton” Morgan. 

The corrections industry has repeatedly asked for permission to use “jamming” technology to disable cell phones inside prisons. Last year, Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Representative William Lamberth (R-Portland) sponsored a resolution in the Tennessee General Assembly that encouraged the Federal Communications Commission to support the use of jamming technology within Tennessee prisons.

Commissioner Parker also said in a statement:

“Without exception, we have continued to ‘kick this can’ down the road, for a variety of reasons,” Parker said.  The only solution offered to corrections has been managed access systems that have proven, time and again, to be unreliable and very expensive. Other technology such as wands and cell phone detectors present many challenges inside correctional environments. It is time to move forward with the use of micro-jamming technology, Parker said. All other technology designed to help correctional departments remove the threats that illegal cell phones bring, have failed and it is time to put the interest of public safety first.”

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WSMV Digital Content Producer

A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twiiter @EthanIllers_TV!

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